While most of the teens I know have little or no money to spend, research says teens online bear watching. These are kids from 13-17 who think the electronic age is a given. Dial phones? Ancient tools their great, great ancestors used. TVs without remote controls? The stuff of dinosaur days. Meals that can't be zapped in a microwave? So 20th century!
Today's teens are Internet savvy to the upmteenth degree. Take away their driving privileges, but don't take away their Internet! Learning more about their surfing habits, and what drives them to spend, is just good business sense.
Emarketer, reporting on a study done by Jupiter Research, shows that 22 million teens will be active Web users by 2008. That's a heartbeat away. Even more intriguing is the gender differences: 53% of these teens are FEMALE. That's Jane power on the leading edge, folks.
The report focuses on "teen influencers"--popular teenagers who have the most influence on their friends. According to the report, they spend more time watching TV, which means you need to get in front of them in that medium, while at the same time, using pay per click, search engine optimization, and search engine marketing, to get them to your website. Understand that these kids are used to having things "their way." Never mind Frank Sinatra, use him on the zoomers and boomers. Get these kids with the message that you'll give it to them, their way. MSP: me selling proposition.
How do you do that? The report notes that IM (Instant Messaging) is the in thing. While placing ads on IM programs through AOL or MSN or Yahoo! is not easy, it will become more prevalant in the next few years, no doubt.
Another area teens are into is--drum roll, please--Weblogs!
This is where I think you have the best bet of getting in front of eyeballs. Not on your weblog-- on theirs. Or on the blog of one of their friends'. The report calls weblogs a less attractive vehicle for advertising to teens, and that may be true. These kids are not into "selling" and "advertising." But, you can get to the influencers... by visiting their weblogs, watching the dialog going on, learning more about what they're interested in, and then by either posting a comment (as an introduction) or, in the case of a blog that is really hot, offering an affiliate program. The key, is to think like they think. To enter their world and talk their talk. You can only do that by careful, continuous observation of who they are and what they're talking about. Blogs are a great way of doing that.
Understand that these kids have power. Some of them have cash to spend. Many of them are on the verge of adulthood, and, as such, they travel, they shop for personal items, they watch movies, they download music, they may even be thinking about their future and how to prepare both socially and financially for it. The fact that 53% are girls, is an opportunity to build brand loyalty at the onset, and get these young women in your court for many years to come. It's for certain that as time goes on, many of them will marry or have a significant other who needs products and services, also. Hmmm...there's a chance to upsell.
Don't forget, girls, like women, enjoy feedback and contact. And they like contests and free stuff. I say, go for it.
What's not to like about that?